Cost Accounting in Local Government

Service Fees

Is it bad to show a profit?

We all know that government is not allowed to make a profit on the services that it provides.  While there are exceptions with the rental or use of a city asset, such as a marina, golf course, or meeting rooms, this is generally true.  Article XIIIB, Section 8(c) of the State constitution states that: Proceeds […]

Do Development Fees Affect Home Sales?

At about every other Council or town-hall meeting I attend there is the question about whether development fees (planning fees, permit fees and impact fees) affect housing sales. More specifically, I am asked if the suggested fee increases deter housing sales and economic growth within that community. At the dais, I have little time to […]

Credit Card Processing Fees

Since there is a lot of interest in credit card processing and convenience fees recently, I thought this would be a great time to write an article and try to shed some light on what you are allowed to charge.  Well, it turns out that there is what the law says and there is what […]

Framing the Case for Fees

As the typical reader of the RCS blog articles, you are a technically skilled government finance professional and can make a strong financial or accounting argument to support your professional recommendations. When you have a thoughtful and technically literate audience, you will win your case.  Sadly, the longer I’ve worked, the more I’ve noticed a […]

Services Limited by State Laws

While performing a fee update and going through the hundreds of different fees and fines which a city may have, we noticed some fees exceeding what is currently set by State laws. This may be due to changes in State law, but more commonly, it’s because cities update all fees using a Consumer Price Index […]

Costing Recreation Services

As part of a Cost of Services Study we are usually asked to provide the full cost of Recreation services and then make recommendations to adjust these fees.  But, as there is a direct connection between the costs and the resulting fees for most other departments in a city, identifying the full costs of Recreation […]

Comprehensive or Targeted Fee Study

There are two different approaches to doing a Fee Study.  You can either do a comprehensive study that involves the entire organization or do a more targeted approach that just reviews departments with a large amount of fee revenues.  There are pros and cons to each approach. Comprehensive Fee Study The main benefit of this […]

Cost Studies

The same person who is credited with inventing accounting, Luca Pacioli, an Italian mathematician from the 15th century, is also credited with inventing cost accounting. Where “regular” accounting is important for financial statements, cost accounting is essential for determining what products cost and how they should be priced. In large private sector companies, there are […]

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